Have third-person PnC adventure games a special charm for you?

Most of the adventure games that I have played use a third-person view, meaning that I can see the character that I’m directing. I think that most classic PnC games have been developed in this way and I was wondering why and why first-person PnC adventure games have always been the exception rather than the rule.

The exceptions are, most notably, the games in the Myst series, those (incredibly ugly, in my opinion) Tex Murphy FMV games and also more recent titles like “Gone Home” or “Firewatch”.

What’s so special about the third-person view that it became the de-facto standard for PnC adventure games?

Do you think that third-person games have some kind of charm that first-person adventure games don’t have?

hmm… I sometimes think I prefer first person games, like Eric the Unready and Legend games in general. I am unsure if I’d prefer monkey island in that format.

In third-person, it is more natural and direct to move the character around. It is more compatible with animation. At the time, seeing the character moving must have been a big thing.

Third-person makes animations cheaper I think, because the camera is such that the things to animate are smaller and drawn with a lower detail. And therefore, animations that previously were too expensive became feasible. (Maybe)

That’s a very interesting question that I have asked myself several times in the past. I like the third-person view much more, but I can’t say exactly why.

In first-person adventures the player is more “sucked into” the world and the player is the (anti-)hero.
The third-person view is much more like a movie, where you control the hero and watch what’s happening. In Germany we have the term Schadenfreude: I can make Guybrush say or make something odd and watch the funny effects. In a first-person adventure I am responsible for each action. So maybe the “distance” to the hero is one of the reasons.

These aren’t Point-and-Click-Adventures. :wink: All textadventures were in the first person perspective.

Third-person p & c adventure games, such as the SCUMM games, have always been my favorites.
The graphics from first-person adventure games from the 90s, such as Myst, Atlantis or Dune, looked too much like still lifes, whereas third-person adventure games always presented at least one character - the playable character - who used to move and sometimes even talked to you. I would not call it a virtual friend, but third-person games felt more lively.

Well, nowadays there are 3D adventure games using the first-person perspective. Maybe they even feel more lively than the SCUMM games now. But, most of them don’t look realistic. Also they are not as charming as 2D pixel art or scanned drawings. Hence I’m still more interested in third-person point & click adventure games.
The only exception are horror games, because the first-person perspective is more immersive, so that it’s more thrilling, if a zombie or an alien appears suddenly in front of you.

actually I play them with the mouse. Anyway, take daughter of serpents, deja vu for amiga, detective grimoire. these are first person point&click adventures.

When I play videogames, I usually want to play a character. I always feel a bit cheated when I actually play a camera instead. Which is one of the reasons I´m not a big fan of FPS games, because you really only play a camera with a hand with a gun attached to it. I´d rather see a pixelated version of Pierce Brosnan when playing the Goldeneye game than just a gun on the bottom of the screen.

Doubly goes for story heavy narrative adventure games. This is why Monkey Island has infinintly more charm and character than Myst, which just makes me feel lonley and depressed (and I get that enough without playing games, already).

So my answer would be a definite, yes!


Most notably? How about The 7th Guest, The 11th Hour, The Journeyman Project, and a few other contemporary? I sort of remember that the “third person” view was mostly Sierra’s games. *shrug*

In any case, to answer the question, I don’t have an affinity to one or the other and I don’t think either one style has something more special over the other. It’s just a matter of the visual and interaction style selected by the designer (or imposed by the platform). What impresses me about a game, and what attaches me to it and engages me, goes deeper than this particular feature.


it makes sense, told in this way.

So I can see why games like Indy 3-4 and Loom gain from third person. They have a charismatic main character. But (for my taste) 99% of games don’t have a character charismatic enough to justify third person.

I think that’s probably quite key in third person games. Playing God can be a lot of fun, and takes away some of the responsibility if something bad happens. Any humour is at the character’s expense, not the player’s. Third person also means getting to play and control different characters, allowing for a bit of variety. I also think a detached ‘birds-eye’ view works well for adventure games where you need to build a bit of a map and have a broad overview of the game.

As others have said I think the immersion of a first person perspective is important for genres like horror, where you don’t want things to be revealed and you need to feel like events are happening to you. It’s a safe way to play through fears and experiences that you wouldn’t want to happen in real life.

I think it’s just that adventure/pnc games are rarely very serious or intense, so the detachment of third person makes sense.


I think it’s a matter of personal preference. I enjoy immensely the Resident Evil series, and they are “third person” view. To me the survival horror genre has a lot in common with adventure games. Especially in the Resident Evil games, you don’t just go around shooting monsters; you actually solve puzzles and discover plot points that advance character arcs and story elements. They usually are organized in three acts and are driven by an underlying narrative.

I haven’t played the latest in a few years, so maybe that has changed, but it was like that back in the late 90s and early to mid '00s.


I actually replayed RE1 for the first time in I don´t know how long. Yes, many of of the puzzles are sliding puzzles and it actually had one of the meanest puzzles ever that made me be stuck for an eternity (the coins in the books) but the fact that they have 2 characters to select that result in different paths throughout the house make it more interesting. And couldn´t have that with first person.

Ironically they already used first person for scenes when something attaks you or for the opening doors/going up and down steps animations. And now the latest installment in the series is first person (which I attribute to the latest VR craze).

That’s why I say it’s not really all that consequential to immersion. To the designer, it’s a way of implementing game mechanics: the interactions you can do in first person are different than those in third person. The story, atmosphere, puzzles, and character arcs remain the same.

It’s like saying “I like text adventures because they are more immersive.” That’s certainly a personal opinion, but it says nothing to all those people who feel absolute immersion in a point-and-click adventure. :slight_smile:


However, I still have a hunch that the first person perspective of Myst might have played a key role in the sucess of the Myst games. With no character to like or dislike the appeal might be broader, especially if people like @seguso have strong feels about liking a character or not, that controversy is removed.
Maybe people who don´t play many games prefer to “play a game” instead of “a character” (I don´t know how else to say it).

Of course, it is hard to prove a “what if” scenario. However, keep in mind that the most likely cause was the beautiful graphics and music on a CD-ROM. It’s hard to imagine now, but CD-ROM was like “the future” back then.

Reports actually suggest that a significant number of people who purchased the game, did not actually play it.


Sure, but then it also wasn´t cheap either. But the iconic look certainly may have helped, yes.

Oh really? That´s interesting, was there a survey about it?

Is this completely possible? Aren’t they made as textadventures? :slight_smile:

Oh, yes! Not to forget Tass Times in Tonetown!

And what about games where you play a character in the first person view? For example Duke Nukem, Half Life or Sunset?

I agree with you, except for the atmosphere: In a third person view I can see the surrounding. In a first person game I only see a small section of the world. For example I can’t see what’s behind me (but maybe hear it :wink: ). This produces a completely different atmosphere and the developer has to deal with that.

Like DZ-Jay I wouldn’t say key role: The graphics were unbelievable good at that time plus the game had an easy to use UI. These were the reasons why my friends played Myst. :slight_smile:

Yes, that would be interesting to know. But AFAIR Myst was a game that was part of a lot of software bundles (if you bought a new computer, you got Myst for free).

Out of those I only played Duke Nukem 3D and that was helped greatly by the voice acting (all those iconic one liners, some of which were taken from movies). Though I´d probably still have prefered a over the shoulder view for that. Wasn´t there an earlier game in the series that was more like a sidescroller? I can´t remember right now.

There were certainly many factors. The fact that you´re directly thrown into the world without much introduction might have contributed to the intrigue.

That would actually explain a lot, I don´t remember that. Still the actual sales numbers were astonishing. Funny thing is that the makers of Myst weren´t gamers themselves. It was like a game from non gamers for non gamers (not exclusivly, mind you but it managed to reach them somehow).

I just played Eric the Unready completely with the mouse. it’s more practical. Click on the verb, then click on the object in the picture. (or double click from the objects column).

Also, playing via keyboard and hiding the verb column is practically impossible, because the verb column suggests some verbs that otherwise you would never think to use, e.g. the verb “moon” or “spit”.

also… In timequest, (not in Eric) if you play with the mouse, the talk verb suggests the topics you can ask about. Not so if you play via keyboard.

I didn’t know that, very interesting, thanks!

btw, deja vu is a masterpiece. The story is very compelling, and you have nested containers, and you need to browse in them, which make the game very immersive. e.g. you click the raincoat and a window opens, and you see the keys and the wallet. You then click the wallet and another window opens, and you see the credit card, the driving license, and so on. Great. (Like Ultima 7.)

Yes, the series started as a sidescroller.

Icom made several other games with that first person interface, for example Deja Vu II, Uninvited and Shadowgate. You can still buy them on Steam. And the developers of Tass Times made also Borrowed Time, a detective story in the first person view.

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wow. What a discovery! I like this style so much.